National Center for Lesbian Rights

Legislation & Policy

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Status: Closed

Outcome: Victory

Location: Nationwide

The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been a critical piece of legislation for expanding access to health care, including for the LGBTQ community. One of its critical features is a statutory prohibition on discrimination in health care based on sex. NCLR advocated extensively with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the federal agency that enforces these protections, to ensure that sexual orientation and gender identity are included within the scope of the ACA nondiscrimination rule. In 2016, HHS issued a rule specifying that it would indeed interpret the nondiscrimination provision as covering LGBTQ people.

Unfortunately HHS under the Trump administration has taken a different view, and is in the process of seeking to change the regulations to take away some of the explicit protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. NCLR filed extensive comments in the record opposing these changes and is continuing to monitor developments in this area.

It is important to note that while HHS can make changes to its regulations, it cannot change the underlying statute, which still contains the prohibition against sex discrimination. Some courts have interpreted the statute to include sexual orientation and gender identity regardless of what HHS does. If you experience discrimination in health care due to your sexual orientation or gender identity you still have the ability to take legal action.

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